Sunday, October 31, 2010

My road to the rally, part 2

Hey, so, I left something out.

I saw my first Redditor on the line at Port Authority. I handed him a sample soap, he looked at it and said "Uh, thanks..." smelled it, and I walked away.

So, we get to the station.

At this point, we'll be discussing the pain.

My legs were hurting already, because of the way I was sitting.

I got off the bus and felt like a pilgrim in an unholy land.

Ok, not really.

I walked for a bit until I couldn't figure out where I was supposed to be heading. Luckily, I fell in with that Redditor and his buddy, and he gets out his iPhone and a GPS app. "This way, gentlemen!" he said in an authoritative voice, pointing. If he had a barrel, or a fallen enemy, or perhaps a wild animal, he would have put a triumphant foot upon it.

Maybe spear a flag into the ground.

So, we started walking. Fast. I'm carrying 30lbs of soap, you know? But I'm keeping up a good pace. I mention the bag after these University boys ask me if it's full of beer. Sigh. No, it's not. This is the Rally to Restore Sanity, not get drunk and act like morons.

For some reason this reminds me of a scene from Spinal Tap.

Ian Faith: The Boston gig has been cancelled...
David St. Hubbins: What?
Ian Faith: Yeah. I wouldn't worry about it though, it's not a big college town.

Sigh. No, not beer. It's 35lbs of soap!

So, we get to walking, and we can hear echos. Echos of yelling. Music. Crowds. Pretty unreal.

We keep walking. Now, let's see if I can detail how far of a walk it was. Let me get a map.

Ok, so, we walked from the bus station (red circle) to down the National Mall.

I lost them about half way there. A woman started talking to me and asking me if I was glad to be there. I said I was, but was upset I was missing the rally. She said that didn't matter. I agreed and disagreed.

She said she had been to three different inaugurations, for Clinton, Bush, and Obama. She said she hadn't seen that many people at any of those, than she did at the Rally. I thought that was pretty unreal.

So. I'm all alone. I have a 40lb bag of soap and people keep bumping into me. I even said "Hey, I'm just the guy with the 45lb bag of soap. COME ON!"

I walked back to 3rd and Madison.

Feeling forever alone, I sat on a rock and watched two daschunds play for a bit. I watched people walk around, and I desperately looked for Redditors, whom I did not find. There was no enjoying the show. I couldn't hear anything, I couldn't see anything, and the crowd, while well mannered, was too thick to walk at a respectable gait.

At this point, I spoke with my girlfriend, then my mom, updating them on my day. I sat on the rock for a bit, people watched, took some video, and was then struck with an irony so deep, so sad, that I had to call my girlfriend again.

"You do realize that while you're in the comfort of our apartment, lounging, watching television, you're able to enjoy the Rally, while I'm actually AT the rally, and I can't enjoy it?"

She laughed.

I started crying.

So, she said "Well, I saw this report earlier about people in Washington, DC, people who actually live there, who said they were going to go to the Rally, saw the trains were packed to the gills, and decided not to go, so why don't you head over to that restaurant I told you about, and get some food, then head to the after party."

She's so smart.

So, that's what I did.

She asks me where I am. I tell her. She goes on google and finds me the closest metro station. I say great. Which way is North?

"You can see the sun, right?"

I said yeah.

"So, figure out where North is."

"I... what, do I look like an Arawak?" (I just started reading Zinn's History of the United States)

Sigh, ok, I'll say something funnier.

"I... what do I look like, a..."

Shit, I've got nothing. I said "I could tell you what time it is..."

"Just figure it out. Go here, go left, go left again, it's right there."

So I say ok. I hang up and go to the first official looking person I can find, which is an ambulance driver. She says "That way. Bend to the left. It's Union Station. That's the closest."


See, now, I didn't know where the hell I was. Union Station sounds like, you know, a good place to go.

The problem was, Union station was all the way back near the goddamn bus station. Here I am, carrying 40lbs of soap... but I didn't realize I was heading in the direction I came from. So I walk back.

I know that white line might be hard to see, but that's the way back.

I stop someone on the way, ask her if I'm heading in the right direction. She says yes. I ask how far. She says about a third of a mile.

Here's where the rest of the pain starts. I've given away, at this point, 1 sample bar.

I'm holding 45lbs of soap and my messenger bag. I feel like I'm slowly dying. I feel like I'm on the second day of The Long Walk and Vegas odds have me buying the farm next.

Once at Union Station, I took the red line to Dupont Circle. The train was empty. So empty that I was able to get a seat, which was awesome. Sitting down was like shutting off the switch on the electric chair, and still being alive.

But not for long.

I had five stops until Dupont. The first stop... not so bad.

The second stop must have been just shy of the mall. In retrospect, I'm happy the ambulance driver told me to walk to Union Station, because this is what it felt like two stops in:

It was insane.

Three stops later, I was able to push myself out, using my 50lb bag of soap as a battering ram. No one smelled as good, or felt as run over, as those did in my path.

Out of the train, I felt I could not only breathe again, but that my blood lust had suddenly dissipated.

Out at Dupont Circle I was able to find my way thanks to a local Washington resident, made my way around the Circle and found myself on Connecticut Avenue. There, I found the coolest place in town.

Now, I hadn't been in town that long, you know, but it's safe to say that there is no place cooler than Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe, who have an awesome place, but wow, what a crappy website...

I got in looking to get a cup of coffee and maybe a dessert or something, I don't know. I had a fresh copy of Howard Zinn's book with me, and I wanted to make a dent in it before the after party. So, I head to the reservation desk and I meet Annie, a very nice young lady who is taking seat requests. One for 3, one for 4, one for 2. I walk up and put one finger up in the air and look sheepishly tired. She smiles. "Just one?"

"Please. I've been wearing the same underwear for twelve hours."

"Oh, in that case, half an hour."

"For chrissake, is there any place other than starbucks I can get a cup of coffee and sit down?"

She thinks for a minute, beckons me closer. "Try Dupont Cafe, across the street."

"Thanks," I say, and head over.

Well, no. That place felt like if I didn't have an MBA, I was not welcome. Also, it was empty. Sure sign.

I walk back. "Yeah, listen, don't ever send anyone over there again, ok? I felt like I needed an MBA to walk in there," I said. I know I already said it to you, but in the interest of full disclosure.

She laughed, looked at her sheet. "Ok, I'm gonna put you in front of all these people."

"Wow, ok," I said, and dug deep into my bag of samples and grabbed her a full bar of Soapert soap. "Here," I said.

"What is this?"

"Soap. It's for the Colbert Rally, for some friends of mine. I only brought 5 of them, so, you know, don't use it. Don't even look at it. Just, you know, smell it."

"Wow, so, I can sell it on eBay for thousands of dollars?"

"No, jeez, it's just soap."

I got a table about three minutes later. You didn't know, did you, that I was so charismatic and charming? Did you!?

So, yeah, I sit down, and Anne comes to my table. No, not Anne, I mean Jen! Jen, yeah.

We talk for a moment, I order decaf coffee and apple pie ala mode. And it was awesome.

I read for a bit, and Anne/Jen comes over and says "Hey, my friend is a big fan of Reddit."

So, I tell her the story of Soapier, and I give her some samples for her and her Reddit friend, who thanked me on Reddit. That was awesome.

The bag does not feel lighter. In fact, after sitting, it felt like I went into default mode, back to a weaker state of being.

I leave and head over to the One Lounge, across the street. I get there and I find more of those amazing inventions...

My road to the Rally (part 1)

My road to the Rally to Restore Sanity, Truthiness, Keeping Fear Alive, and all of the other sub-names, was one of doubt, excitement, frustration, sore feet, sore hands, disappointment, hunger, awesomeness, exhaustion, and exhaustion.

Let's start at Doubt.

After hearing about the Rally, and what I truly believe to be Reddit's enormous contribution to making it happen, I knew that I had to be a part of it. I didn't know in what capacity, but I wanted to be there. To share in the message, meet like-minded people, and get together with a fantastic group of people who, directly or indirectly, helped my family and I.

So, I started getting in touch with some of the Reddit admins. Or, I should say, I tried to get in touch with them. Running Reddit clearly takes devotion, passion, expertise... and time. Suffice it to say, while the Reddit Admins work hard every day, their work became exponentially more time consuming as the Rally got closer.

So, I didn't hear back from them. With good reason.

As the date got closer, I became more doubtful of my attendance. There was going to be a Reddit booth, maybe. I was hoping to be there. Maybe. I was planning on bringing samples. Maybe. Then there was no booth. Scratch the samples. Ok, maybe stickers. That would be cool.

Would it be cool? Eh, I don't know. Maybe I'll just show my face, I don't know.

A week before the Rally, I didn't think I was going to go. I hadn't heard back from anyone about a spot for me (not that I deserved one, but I wanted to see if I could get one, at a Reddit booth, or what-have-you...)

Now, two weeks before the rally, I had sent an e-mail to Reddit about advertising. I wanted to do some holiday advertising, and wanted to run some 250X300 banners.

Got in touch with a woman I hadn't heard of before at Reddit, who basically said that the advertising on Reddit had picked up steam, and the amount of money that we were willing to spend would not get us any real facetime on Reddit. Well, that was too bad, but she offered a solution.

Oh, 'she' is Lia. I'm not actually sure what her Reddit name is, but yeah.

So, she says 'we'll get you some ads of the Reddit Aliens and envelopes. We'll do that!'

Well, that was great news. Just in time for Secret Santa, and the holidays, for opening the UK store... awesome. Reddit has, time and again, does what it can to help us out. It's greatly appreciated.

So, a week goes by, it's a week before the Rally, I can't get in touch with anyone, and I'm sitting down on my mom's couch in Tampa, and we're talking about the rally and...

Heyyyyyyyyyyyy. Why not call this woman at Reddit? She foolishly left her work number on the bottom of her first email.

So I call her.

And she was like "They didn't get in touch with you? Oh, I'll take care of that, don't you worry!"

Ok, she didn't say any of that, but that's how it sounded. She got in touch with HueyPriest and he got back to me straight away, put me on the party VIP list and I turn to my mom and say "Uhhhh, so, yeah."

She shakes her head. "No. Nope. Uh-uh."


"No, J."


"Then you do it. I'm watching HGTV."

I can't, for the life of me, get away from HGTV. My girl watches it, my mom...

Here starts the Excitement phase.

So, I started making these:

6 trays, 16 soaps a tray. 3 trays at a time. Each layer has to be done separately, obviously, and cooled/hardened the next. So, it took some time.

Then I made these:

Full bars.

While I'm making them, I start looking for a way to get down to DC from NYC. Train is too expensive. Flying is out. Am I staying over a night or what? Hotel prices are crazy. Hostel's are sold out. Staying with a stranger isn't going to happen. I'm just too good looking.

What? I AM!

So, I decide on leaving at 6:30am Saturday morning, and coming back at 10pm. But that won't work, because the after party starts at 5... that's not enough time to meet everyone.

So, a Saturday 6:30am bus down, 1:15am bus Sunday morning back home. Yeah. That'll do it.

I'm 37. I should have known my body was going to revolt. I should have known.

I bought the tickets.

Got the soaps all finished, then I wrapped each one, labeled them, packaged them up, and got them all off in time before I came back to NY.

I also added some Reddit Alien soaps and and Envelope set. Alexis wanted one for his father, and I figured I'd give some out to people, and show them off.

I got them three days later, and lost five to a dented side, on the box. Sigh. So, all told, I had 91 samples, 5 large bars, 3 Alien soaps, and 1 Envelope set. Which leads us to...


How in the hell was I going to carry all of this?

That's about... well, let's see. Each sample bar is 2oz. Each Alien is 10oz. Each large bar is 6oz. Each envelope set is 8oz.

That's... 2... carry the 1... about 16lbs.

No. No way. Absolutely no way was that only 16lbs. It weighed like I was holding 3 bricks... which is about 18 pounds.

Fine. So, I was telling people at the Rally after party that it was like 40 lbs worth of soap. That's what it felt like.

I borrow a knapsack from my friend Elke and start putting them in there. All nice and neat, I put the rest of the things I'm bringing into the bag, put out my clothes for the night, and go to sleep. Or half sleep. I didn't sleep well that night.

I went to bed at 10pm, but didn't fall asleep until 11:30, and then woke up every half hour or so. It happens, every time I have to wake up at a certain time that's earlier than normal. So, I slept like crap.

Woke up, got ready, lifted up the knapsack that I had borrowed from a friend and said "Nope. No. Not gonna happen."

Yeah, there's no way it was only 16lbs. Christ, that bag was heavy. So I put it in a carry bag, brought my messenger bag... yeah, great idea John. Let's not put it all in one bag, let's unevenly distribute it in two. Perfect.


Eat breakfast, wash my face, brush my teeth, say goodbye to Karen and the kitties, and I head out the door.

The first thing I notice is IT'S COLD.

The second thing I notice is I'm exhausted.

I walk the fifteen blocks or so to the subway station, get down there, and a train approaches. I'm on the A line, and it's a straight shot to Port Authority. Well, it's not an A. Not a C... it's an F. I don't have to tell you what I proceeded to read into, that F.

I sit down, let it pass, and wait 20 minutes for... another F train. Oh man.

I run outside the station, flapping my hands too and fro, and catch a cab. "To Port Authority!"

We catch every single light for sixty blocks, no fooling. It was like some force was making sure we get there with some time to spare.


I get there, pay the guy, grab my 20lb bag of soap, and go into Port Authority where I find... the Information desk is shut.

There's a sign that says "Oh, hey, there's another one down there."

Ok, so I go down there. That one has a sign that says "Go somewhere else."

I'm starting to get mad.

I see other people and they're milling about. No one can answer my question. There's no sign that says "Peter Pan Bus Gates Here." Nothing on my ticket.

I'm thinking to myself, "Self... there aren't that many people around, we can't really follow a crowd. Let's go downstairs, see if there's anyone down there."

So, I go downstairs. A lone guy, with no affiliation to the Port Authority says "Washington?"

"Uh, yeah."

"Gate 71. Down there."

"Ok. I'm gonna get a danish."

"Yeah, man."

Au Bon Pain did not have any danish. Bastards.

So I head to gate 71. And there's a line.

Now, when you think of a line, you think movie theater line, or maybe even a line outside that club you want to get into, right?

This line was crazy. It spread out all the way down in the basement of Port Authority. It snaked around columns, followed long corridors, down short hallways, and ended with a bunch of people who were turning the end of the line into... wait for it... LEGENDARY.

No, I mean a circle. They were curling the end of the line. It was full on retarded.

Now, I don't like to meddle. Or maybe I do, because I think of myself as a problem solver. Or an elitist. I'm not sure where the distinction lies. Or not. Or whatever.

So, I go and talk to some PA guy and tell him what's happening. Instead of actually doing something about it, he looks, smiles like an idiot, and goes back to talking to his friend.

I walk back grumbling about "I'll show you..." and tell the people behind me that maybe they should, you know, in the interest of sanity, start curling the line so that it doesn't move in a circle. This woman, wearing a Viking hat says "Dude, take it easy, it's just a $30 ticket to Washington."

At this point, I took the war helmet and bashed her brains in. In my mind.

What I actually did was nothing, and I said "Hey, I just think that people are going to start getting angry, and you have an opportunity to start pointing the line in a good position. But, whatever."

Since her group were behind me, they were at a point where they could move the line, because of a structure they were next to. Alas they did not. So, for the next half an hour, while the line grew, it spiraled and continued to spiral, until there were two lines in a tight space. I decided, then and there, that I would not help save the human race from any asteroid strike in the future.

The line, which I have some footage of, was over 1,000 people, easy, and doubled back to the front of the line and then split off. That was AFTER they'd already filled more than ten buses.

It was unreal.

When I finally did get on a bus, it was 7:20, and we were on our way. I sat, for the first two hours... well, the whole way, actually... with a hardened plastic seat belt lock in my left ass cheek, pain in my left leg, and a seat companion who would turn around, get up on her knees, and talk to the people behind us.

By the time we got to the rest stop, we were on time. By the time we left the rest stop, we were 10 minutes late. By the time we reached Maryland we were an hour and a half late. We made it to DC at 12:45pm, five and a half hours after we left.

I wanted to die.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Quick update

Well, I just bought a Kodak Playsport compact camcorder for the trip this weekend. I plan on putting together a video of my trip, meeting people etc. Should be great.

I'm gearing up for this weekend. Just got my box of soaps from Florida, and the whole apartment smells like apple pie. Yummm.

Let's see. The UK site is almost finished. That's fantastic news.

I leave 6:30am on Saturday morning and get into DC around 11:00. I hope I get a good view of the show. I'm very much looking forward to the Reddit after party. That will be a lot of fun, and a relief. I'll be able to give out most of the samples by then. Whew. Lugging around 30lbs of soap is going to make for a tiring day.

My trip to Florida was moderately successful. We made a ton of soap, getting ready for the holiday season. I'm very excited to see what the next two months bring!

If you are going to the rally, are a redditor, and want a sample of our Soapert soaps, look for the tall blonde guy in the 8-Bit Reddit shirt. He's devilishly handsome (ehhhhh), in fantastic shape (oh, for God sake), and oozes charisma.

That last part is true. Ish.

See you in two days!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Soapier's Big Announcement


So, about two or three weeks ago, or more, I can't remember, I decided to take over the business.

So, I post on Reddit. Anyone who gets us a wholesale account, they will receive a $30 gift certificate to

Well, I get an email from a lovely woman, Erica, in the UK, asking about franchise opportunities, or a wholesale agreement. We chat back and forth a bit, and, lo and behold...

Soapier UK is born!

Now, I won't get into the particulars, about cost, shipping, UK taxes, etc... but we both did everything we could to keep costs down so that our European customers will be saving money, purchasing Soapier products.

She is also selling our Reddit Alien and envelope soaps, along with Trollface soaps!

As of right now, we're selling our best sellers from the US in the UK. As time progresses, we'll be bringing over more product.

We're working out some logistic issues with the shopping cart right now, but Erica is taking pre-orders and will start shipping December 1, in plenty of time for the holidays!

So, that's awesome.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Soapier goes to Washington, DC

Well, it's just about a week away. The Rally to Restore Sanity, and Soapier will be there, hanging out with the Reddit crowd, and the rest of the country!

Should be a lot of fun. I'm hoping to take video, do a little montage of my trip...

AND, I'll be bringing down a couple of goodies, as mementos. Check it out. They're called Soapert:

You know, for Colbert? And the best thing is, it smells like apple pie.

My friend Nicole, who has her own pretty awesome blog, Thrift Store Confidential, gave me this idea. Thanks Nicole!

Anyway, if you see me down there (I'll be wearing a Reddit shirt, at the Reddit After-Party, smelling like soap) I might be able to give you one! I can only bring about 50 or so... they're heavy.

See you in Washington!


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Aid for Aidan

A family put a young boy's artwork up on to raise money for his leukemia treatments.

Thanks to Aidan, Soapier has a new mascot!

The prints are $12.00, and go to a good cause. Yesterday, when I purchased, there had been 90 sales. Today, it's at 480, and they had to stop selling because they have so many orders. That's awesome.

Good going Reddit!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Exhaustion, and looking ahead

Well, I've been here a total of five days, and let me tell you brother, my 60-some-odd year old mother is running rings around me.

I would venture that she's working harder at her job than most people do. Clearly that might be an exaggeration, but it can't be that far off base.

Let me see if I can break this down for you.

At present, we sell:

34 different soaps by the slice

6 different goat's milk soaps

6 different Soapier accent soaps

5 different soap slices in mens fragrances

3 different kinds of Reddit Alien soap

2 different Reddit Envelope Soaps

1 Trollface soap

We offer more than 40 different Soapier Samples

We have 6 different gift baskets for the holidays

3 different Soap of the Month Club options

8 different holiday soaps

and a set of Animal Cracker soaps for kids.

One woman, over the past four months, has been busting her ass to make all of this soap for our customers. My sister had been helping, but the business couldn't sustain her salary, so she had to quit. It wasn't an easy decision.

To be clear, if I had six months, I still wouldn't know everything about this business.

I've sat here... well, not really sat. I've walked around this apartment, and I've done my share of making soap, but there is no business without my mom.

Let me tell you what needs to happen, for Soapier to continue.

First off, we need orders. Now, I have some very, very good news that I'm going to spill on Thursday. This might be exactly what Soapier needs, to generate orders... we also have the holiday season fast approaching, and also the Reddit Secret Santa. Should be awesome.

We have two different venues for advertising this holiday season. I'm optimistic.

Second, we need to hire someone.

Third, we need a production facility.

Now, 'production facility' is just a fancy term for warehouse space. I like to call it a production facility because, well, that's what we do there. We produce a product.

The second and third things that we need are tied to us getting sales. We need to generate X amount this holiday season to allow us to hire someone and move our soap making out of my mom's house and into a space that is dedicated to one thing.

Clearly, moving our soap making business is not possible between now and the holidays. Not unless we received $10,000 in orders over the next two weeks. Hell, that would pay for a space AND a full time person for the next five months, at least. But I'm not holding my breath.

One of the things I've been looking into is I want to put up a fundraising campaign, offering our Soap of the Month Club as incentive. We'll see if it happens.

Other than that... right now, it's a waiting game. We have to see how November sales are. Which kind of sucks, because November of last year was a busy month for us. It's one of the main reasons I'm down in Florida right now. We're making as much soap as we can, so that when the orders do start coming in, we can get them out without having to stop everything, just to make a loaf of soap.

Tomorrow, we put in a big order for soap base. We put in an order for some extra molds, a new mold for shaving soap (we've been getting plenty of requests), and some fragrances.

Then it's Keep on Truckin', making soap, wrapping it, labeling it, and storing it for the rush.

If you had a good relationship with your mother when you were younger, then the amount of respect you had for her will change, as you grow older. It might go lower... that's probably when you come to see some things about her, as an adult, that you might not agree with, and what have you. I hope that's rare.

Or, it might go higher.

For me, it's clearly gone higher. I've seen my mom fight her way through some personal issues, over the last five years or so, that would affect others in a much worse way, and come out damaged on the other side. Clearly, my mom can be defined as a fighter. She has high standards for things that actually matter, and it's one of the reasons this business has done as well as it has, this past year.

So, to all of you who are fans of our soap, your thanks should go directly to Linda. She's the driving force behind this company, and I'm going to do all I can to take the burden off of her shoulders.

We'll see how Soapier fares after this holiday season. I think that, at some point, I'll have some wonderful news for you, in the realm of our growing business.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Day 2


Tension breaker, had to be done.

Soap. More soap. Soap everywhere I turn.

Soap to the left of me...

Soap to the right of me...

Niagara Falls!


Anyway. Here I am, it's a bit past midnight, and I'm exhausted. Figured I'd do a quick update on our progress.

We're running out of room. We're preparing Christmas soaps so that we can get orders out as soon as possible, when they come in. The faster we can get them out, the happier we'll be.

Here is a photo of the holiday soap that people will be getting if they order the 1-year subscription of our Soap of the Month Club.

It's called Snow Mitten, and it smells like Cranberries on Ice! Smells delicious. My mom and I spent yesterday and today making these.

We also have another Christmas soap we put up called Reindeer Games:

That's fragranced with chocolate mint. Yummy.

This weekend, we continue making the gift baskets, works of art soaps, and more. Not sure how much blogging I'm going to get to this weekend, but next week, I have a super, duper, awesome piece of news. I don't want to spoil it, but check back around Thursday or so (though, you know, check out my blog posts that I'll have earlier, too). It's going to be a big deal, for Soapier.

Oh, and two things. One, we signed up for an account. If you're a blogger, you can make money promoting Soapier!

Two, we got this awesome review.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Day 1

Got in last night, blew up the air mattress, and slept on the floor in the living room. That's SOP for me, in Florida, since the business takes up the second bedroom of my mom's apartment.

The only problem with sleeping in the living room is that my mom gets up at 5am to walk her dog, and makes enough racket to wake up the corpses that live under the complex here. Remember Poltergeist? Yeah, this place used to be a cemetery, but they didn't move the bodies.

Woke up this morning and greeted a friend of my mom's, who was here for 4 hours to help wrap soap. We were making the Gift Baskets today... it's a lot of soap, a lot of wrapping. We were lucky to have her help.

So, here's what happens when we make baskets. First, we have these cute metal pails, and we fill them with some paper filler.

We did this while the soaps were getting wrapped.

After wrapping, my mom put in shred...

Then my mom started placing them in the buckets...

... and then wrapped them in colorful wrapping, with a ribbon.

That is the Gentlemen's Club gift basket. It has six different soaps, in brand new fragrances: Dragon's Blood, Cool Water, Indian Musk, Vetiver, Issey Miyake, Nag Champa.

Should be a great selection of soaps for the guy in your life!

We went to lunch shortly after, at Boston Market. Wow. I deal with food preparers RARELY in NYC. Karen and I try and cook as much as possible. The people at the Tampa Boston Market were simply awesome, and the manager was an amazing upseller. They even brought our food to our tables, which is brand new. The only issue I had was that they were basically serving food, and were not allowed to accept tips. That's not right. Shame, Boston Market. Those people were busting their ass BEFORE this new situation. Now you have them doing more work, for the same money. Not cool.

Back home. Doing a second gift basket... this time, Sugar Rush, the basket we made for kids, and, you know, everyone who loves sweets. Let's see...

Those are the bars. The fragrances coming from these bars was nuts.

Bubble Gum, Caramel Apple, Cherry Cola, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Snickerdoodle (cinnamon sugar cookie), Marshmallow. Yeah, they're as good as they sound.

Here's another angle, just cooler.

All in all, it was a good day. We did 16 of each basket. That's all we're making, this holiday season. Once they're gone, they're gone. The reason is, the molds for our sample sizes makes 16 bars.

That's about it, for today. Tomorrow I'm making a red, white, and blue soap to sell between now and Christmas. It will be called Soapert... for Colbert. $1 from each bar sold will be donated to I'll have pictures on Monday, once we fix it.

Oh, and it's gonna smell like apple pie. Yeah.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Heading to Florida

Well... I was going to shoot video, and put together a near little montage of my trip to Florida, but I fell to one of the worst genetic problems one can fall to.


My whole family has it. I'm not going to say 'it's like a cancer', even though it is.

Ok, it's totally like a cancer.

I didn't end up leaving until 4:15. That was 15 minutes late. Then, I got down to the subway and had to wait two trains, because they were tooooo full, and I wouldn't have gotten a seat to relax and eat my sandwich.

Which was important.

The trip was uneventful. I'm not sure what I would have recorded, but I could have put it to cool music, and that would have made even the most benign footage interesting.

Oh well.

I'm at the airport, waiting for the call to get on the plane.

I think it was in The Stand, yeah, where Glen Bateman talks about planes crashing. The gist is that somehow, some people know if a plane is going to crash, and that most plane crashes are actually only half filled, because people sense something is wrong, and they don't get on the plane.

That might have been true in the 70s/80s. I don't suspect that people would give up a seat these days. The cost is brutal.

Anyway, I'm heading down for my initial visit, to help with the holiday rush. We'll be making soap every day, and doing some fixings to the site, and we'll see how it goes. I expect good things.

Then I'll be back up in NY for the Colbert Rally, we'll be hiring on some help, and getting through the holidays. From there... well, you all will know how we're doing. If you get one or two word blogs, we're busy. If you get a novel, buy as much soap as you can!

Monday, October 11, 2010


So, I've been doing some research on how to improve sales, and one of the things I found was that I should add testimonials to the site.

On top of advertising on both Reddit and Facebook, this is something that should be reasonably easy to do.

If any of our customers would like to write us about a particular soap that they've used, I will send you a 15% off coupon on your next purchase, to use your testimonial.

You can email me at That would be great.

We did do some testimonials on our Trollface soap page. That was fun. Hopefully we'll get some really great testimonials, and I'll be able to put them on this blog.

I sent out an email to the First In Line Soap list, letting people know we were open again, and I was hoping for an order. :(

Then I forgot that today was a holiday. Sigh.

That's what happens when you aren't working. You forget the holiday schedule. Even with my girlfriend home, I kept thinking it was Sunday. Then Castle came on, and I was like "Uhhhh... wait, today is Monday?"

I head down to Florida on Wednesday, to help make soap for the holidays. Should be a fun and productive trip!

Thanks for reading, and for comments people have been leaving. It's nice to know people visit our blog.

In fact, after I did some research with our account, I found that people click on our blog a lot more than I thought they would. Interesting.

If you're reading, showing up for the first time, or want to just say hello, comment!

Thanks - John

Wholesale customers

Hi everyone,

About four months before my mom decided to close Soapier, she closed our wholesale division, First In Line Soap.

I just re-opened it, and we're looking for customers.

If you know someone who might like to sell our soaps in their store, let them know about us! If your suggestion results in a wholesale purchase (we have a $150 minimum purchase, which is 5 loafs), we'll give you a $30 gift certificate to Soapier!

Wholesale customers must have a tax ID#.

With each loaf, customers get wrapping paper for the soap, colorful labels (you all know the labels), and signs, just like this. And, if they sign up for our newsletter, they'll receive a 10% off coupon, for being a new customer.



Friday, October 8, 2010

Doing good for others

After receiving tons of support from Redditors last year, it seemed fairly obvious to all of us that we had to pay whatever we could forward to others.

I'm not going to list the things we did this past year because, the fact is, it would just be self serving, and that's not what I want to be about.

What I do want to let everyone know is that every once in a while, there's going to be something awesome that we find out about... that the Reddit community, or the community at large, rallies behind.

Just yesterday, there was a sickening story about a 7-year old girl and her family who was being harassed by her neighbors. The thing is, the 7-year old is dying. It's pretty disgusting, and it's garnered some national interest.

But the really cool thing is that a Redditor decided to rally the troops and get his fellow Redditors to chip in and show her that there are good people in the world.

Someone else took it a step further. He owns a toy store near the girl and her family, put up a donation page, and raised over $4,000 (much of it from Redditors), to get toys for her and for other sick children.

Unreal, isn't it?

We're going to see what we can do, not only for this brave girl, but for Mott's Children's Hospital, in Michigan. I'll have to run it past Linda (mom), but I think we'll contact the hospital and see if we can send the kids there a bar of one of our Works of Art Soaps. They might not want the kids to use regular soap... I'll have to find out and update this blog, but it's something I'd like to do.

This whole situation is one of the reasons I love Reddit. Not only does it bring to light news from all over the world, but it also shows how strong the human spirit is. I'm proud to be a part of the community.


Edit: due to the time constraints of this young girl's situation, we donated money, instead. If you feel you'd like to donate, you can do so here.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


I'm a big fan of poker. My gf and I watch the World Series of Poker religiously.

I like to go down to Atlantic City with my friends and play table games and poker. Whenever we can, we go to Vegas.

Lately, our trips have been few and far between. I haven't been working, and when you're not working, trips like that are just too expensive, and just... what's the word. Frivolous. That's a good word.

When I moved down to Florida in 2008 to help my mom and sister with the company, my mom asked my sister and I to write down a bunch of things we wanted, when the company became successful.

My mom's very big on positive thinking.

So, one of the things I wrote down was that I wanted to get into the main event at the WSOP. It's a $10,000 ticket, and, at the time, I felt that THAT would be the ultimate cool thing to do when the company went nuts.

See, we had a retail store, we had wholesale customers, and we had just hired a PR firm to help us get out into the world. We sent out press releases, received a HUGE amount of requests for samples, and we really thought we were going to have a serious amount of magazines, television shows, newspapers, and more promoting our awesome products.

At the time, $10,000 seemed like chump change. Sure, hey, I'll get to the WSOP. Maybe I'll even do well. Sure.

Hell, one of the other things I wanted was an original Jeffrey Jones painting. Something like Age of Innocence. One of the most phenomenal paintings out there, in my opinion. I'm a huge Jeffrey Jones (the painter, not the pedophile) fan.

A bit more than 2 years later, my list has changed completely.

I would never consider paying $10,000 for a seat at a poker tournament. I respect people who can do that. After being out of work for so long, I have to save whatever money I make, and, believe me, I won't be making much of anything for a while.

Soapier needs help. Marketing help, actual physical help. We need to hire someone, to help us with soap making, wrapping, shipping. All very important to the survival of my mom's mental health, and our business.

Let's see. What's on my list.

Well, I'd like to be able to help pay rent and bills.

I'd like to be able to buy Christmas presents this year, though I know how much a handmade gift can be appreciated.

I'd like to be able to get my mom a vacation. She hasn't been on a proper one in many years.

I'd like to get my sister a new (used) car.

I'd like to save enough money so that the company won't ever be on its last legs.

I'd like to have enough money so that we can continue to donate to great causes that Reddit finds.

I would Soapier to be a shining light in the world. We're not interested in making millions. We're interested in having a stable company, with stable employees that get the rewards they deserve.

I had this fantastic idea for franchising Soapier stores. I hope to be able to promote these franchises next year. I think it will revolutionize how businesses franchise. I really do... and what it will achieve will be huge for people who want to start their own businesses, but don't want to pay $50,000 before they even open a store. There's a better way.

The WSOP will always be around. Maybe one day when I'm making a salary, and have a significant amount of savings, and won't stress out about spending the money... then I'll be able to do it.

Until then, it's a nice dream... but there are quite a few nicer, more practical ones that hold priority, and I'm fine with that.

Thanks for reading. I head down to Florida for my initial trip on Wednesday. We'll see how it goes.


Update, new products, and more!

Hi all.

Today, we have some fantastic products for this holiday season, including a Soap of the Month Club! We can send this to friends and family... people you think are stinky. Whoever you want. We have 3 different subscription options. Each month you or your enemy... sigh, or your family member or friend or someone else... they'll receive a brand new soap in a brand new, exclusive fragrance.

These are very limited, so get them while you can! As we get orders, I'll be updating the site to let customers know how many we have left.

We have holiday soaps, holiday gift baskets, stuff for kids... and all of our other great products.

Most, if not all of this stuff are pre-orders. The Soap of the Month Club members will receive their first order just in time for Christmas!

Gift baskets and gift soaps will not start shipping until the first week of November.

And yes, yes, yes, we have our infamous Santa's Nog soap.

One other thing. To try and market us better, I have added Facebook Like buttons to all of our pages. If you see something you like, Like us on Facebook!

You can also become a fan of Soapier on FB.

Thanks everyone. Two more things.

First, if you or anyone you know is looking for work this holiday season, and who lives in the Tampa area, Soapier is looking to hire someone! Email me at and we'll see what we can do. It's just one person we're hiring, and we need a really good person, who is creative, hard working, and doesn't need to text 24/7. This job could possibly become full time (we hope it will) if our holiday sales are good enough to sustain them through the new year.

Two. We're looking to move into a new facility. This, too, is dependent on holiday sales. The next two months will be crazy for us, but I believe it's imperative that we find a new space, so that we can get all of our orders out in a timely fashion.

Oh, and one more thing. Normally, we charge orders when we ship. It's taking too much time for us to do this, so we're going to start processing cc fees straight from the gateway (cart). For those of you who need to wait a couple of days, or have some special need, just contact us. We'll work with you!

All the best,


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Rollercoaster

Hello all. Thanks for stopping by and reading what will surely be a strange, yet provocative piece of non-fiction. Nothing to tell the grandkids, you know, but still...

At the end of August, my mom decided to call it quits with Soapier. She just couldn't do it alone any more. My sister had taken a full time job because the soap business wasn't able to support both my mom and her.

So, basically, my mom was overworked.

She said "I'm done. Done. DONE. I can't do it any more." This was on the phone, you know.

So, she said tell them we're closing. Tell them we're closing, but if they want to buy us, they can. If not, I'm going to, I don't know, be a greeter at Wal-Mart or something. But don't tell them that.

Sigh, ok mom.

Now, listen. I love everything that we've done over the past however many years. I love it. I love, more specifically, the amount of help, support, and love we've received from Reddit. I don't know how many retail companies can say the have received as much as we have. It was truly unbelievable.

I know I say it often enough, but I don't think people grasp the full scope of what happened.

I post a thread on Reddit and receive quite the sendoff.

But from that moment on, I was kind of obsessed with keeping the business.

We received over 40 interested parties who wanted to obtain Soapier. We sent out emails with an asking price, and by the end of the month, we had two potential buyers, and one party interested in investing with us.

In the end, none of it was a good fit. I was both relieved and a bit disappointed. My sister and my mom (not to mention myself) could have used the money from the sale. But I had other plans.

I haven't been working steady since February of this year. Nothing's really been working for me. I've been a graphic designer for 13 years, and I'm, unfortunately, in that position where people won't hire me for entry positions because they think I'll rabbit if something better comes along. I'm also in the position to know the value of my experience, and when a company is looking for me (or someone like me) to do the work of 3 people for a ridiculously low salary.

Ok, ok. I applied to those jobs, too. Beggars can't be choosers.

But nothing was happening. I even applied for dog walking positions. One place told me they received over 400 resumes for the position. That was when I knew that not only were things tough, but that my not finding work was not my fault.

So, I thought. And thought. Thought some more. And I decided that I would go down to Florida and take over the business.

Posted it on Reddit, got in touch with our customers who purchased during September, to give them the opportunity to return their product, just in case they felt that they were buying under false pretenses...

And now we're at present day.

Oh, check this out. Stephen Colbert mentioned Soapier in a letter he sent to Reddit. That day was pretty much THE day that I decided I wasn't giving up. It's not every day that someone like him mentions someone like us. I was floored. I mean, seriously floored. I read that letter five times. I couldn't believe it.

So, I'll be heading down to Florida, then heading to Washington, hiring a part-time person to help us get through the holidays, and trying to find a warehouse space in Florida that we can use, so that I can get the business out of my mom's apartment.

I also have a couple of great ideas for the holidays that we're sure are going to be fantastic gift ideas this year.

We're very excited.

Thanks for reading. One of the things I'll be doing is updating this blog more and more, as the days of my being at Soapier continue. Should be a lot of fun, and I'm very excited (and nervous) to get started. Wish me luck.